Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Warning: Who Gets to Say What is Good or Bad?

I have to start by saying I've never had the habit of smoking so I do not have first hand knowledge of how difficult it is to quit. However, I've known family members who have fought with it and my own partner has been a smoker for years. That said, I still have my opinion about the FDA coming out with new warning labels to go on the side of cigarettes. Do they truly think that a photo is going to cause smokers to stop smoking anymore than the existing warning? Let's face it: smokers already know the risk. Ask anyone and I'm sure they can tell you. But they also know the addiction. Those photos do nothing to curb that. 
The new photos being added to cigarette packages
I would absolutely wish that my other half could stop once and for all so that I'd have a sense of us both being around into our older years, but that is not my place to tell him - no more than he can tell me to stop munching on a bag of chips. Should the government begin dictating the branding on every single thing that is 'bad' for us? Put obese people on the side of Twinkies? Show a diabetic shooting themselves with daily needles on a can of soda? Show mangled car crashes on a whiskey bottle? Where do they draw the line? 
If they really want to help society and dictate good/bad for us - get rid of it all. Don't allow companies to make it. I realize I am being ridiculous in saying that as this is a free country - but then how can they tell companies what images to place on their products? The new cigarette packages have a % of how much of these photos will need to be on there - taking away much of the branding real estate on their packages. Where is the freedom in that? 
They believe this campaign will get 200,000 people to stop smoking (yes, they are actually putting a number on it). I just returned from New Orleans where I swore the entire city smoked...so while several cities are cutting back on where people can light up, there are many in this country that still do it. I can already hear those telling me that if it stops one person from smoking than it is worth it, but I believe there are better ways to spend government money and time. 
The upside is that in doing this they are going to really help the sales of another business. I can see cigarette cases coming back into style. Smokers will buy the packages, remove the cigarettes (but keep the photos as a way to collect all nine), and place their smokes into a case reminiscent of Bogart and Bacall. 


  1. Australia has done it. It's not a total waste of time.

    Although our new legislation is that there's no branding at all on cigarette packages. Just a brown carton for every single brand of cigarettes.

  2. I do think the U.S. will not be far behind you on that, Laura. Does Australia cover any of the other things that the medical profession know are bad for us? I'm really curious where the U.S. government will draw the line on what they will and will not suggest consumers do.

  3. Foods need to have labels with their ingredients and things like that. Legislation has been building on food labelling, and making sure people know what's not healthy for them. Other than that, I'm pretty sure people are just allowed to live their lives.

    If you look at it from the government's perspective: they have all these statistics saying what is the leading cause of death in the country/state/world, and they start at the top to encourage people not to die in those ways (heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia, caused by smoking and other poor lifestyle habits.)

    There's also always new legislation about driving and road safety - they want to stop as many people from dying needlessly as they can.